President Donald Trump appears to be talking a “big game” about wanting several current and former officials from his administration to speak at his impeachment trial in the Senate, but says he doesn’t think they can do so due to national security concerns.
While speaking with reporters in Davos, Switzerland, at the World Economic Forum on Wednesday, Trump said he’d “rather go the long way” — that is, have a long trial — than have a short, brisk one that dismisses the articles of impeachment made against him right away.
He even said he wanted potential witnesses like former National Security Advisor John Bolton to testify, but, perhaps conveniently, said that couldn’t happen because of national security issues and potentially revealing how the administration views other countries around the world, Axios reported.
“[Bolton] knows some of my thoughts. He knows what I think about leaders,” Trump said. “What happens if he reveals what I think about a certain leader and it’s not very positive and then I have to deal on behalf of the country? It’s going to be very hard, going to make the job very hard.”
Trump added that he’d like to see other officials, past and present, testify as well, like chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and former Energy Secretary Rick Perry — all key players within the Ukraine scandal that led to Trump’s impeachment in the first place. But again, he said that can’t happen, for the same reasons Bolton can’t testify, in his opinion.
The president even remarked how he might go to the impeachment trial himself — as an audience member, not as a witness.
“I’d sit right in the front row and stare in their corrupt faces. I’d love to do it…Don’t keep talking because you may convince me to do it,” he said.
Trump suggested it was a move that his lawyers might prevent him from doing, however.
White House lawyers are preparing for the possibility that witnesses like John Bolton, the former national security advisor, will be allowed at President Trump’s impeachment trial. Their objections could involve arguing that portions of it are classified. https://t.co/vGlEQWc2Th
— The New York Times (@nytimes) January 21, 2020
The president’s remarks appear to be big talk with convenient excuses for why he won’t follow up on what he said he’d like to see happen. But as far as national security concerns go, it’s unlikely that Trump’s worries would come to fruition.
Even if the Senate votes to let Bolton testify — four Republican senators would have to “cross over” the partisan divide to have that happen — it’s unlikely that his statements would be broadcast publicly for all to see.
As Business Insider reported, it’s far more likely that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would attempt to keep Bolton’s testimony behind closed doors (and equally as likely that those four wayward Republicans would agree to those conditions as a compromise).